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The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  886 ratings  ·  84 reviews
In The Sins of Scripture, Bishop John Shelby Spong takes on a thematic exploration of the Bible, carefully analyzing those passages that inform some of our key debates, like the role of women in the church and in society, and homosexuality, to name just two. Beyond that he also looks at scriptures that have helped shape culture and history -- bringing to light the undercur ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 14th 2006 by HarperOne (first published 2005)
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Lee Harmon
Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The subtitle of this book is Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love. I read this book a few years back, and the reason it came to mind today is because I am feeling overwhelmed by the aggressiveness of anti-Bible crusaders. Unquestionably, there are many passages in the Bible that are not only questionable theology, but downright appalling. Unquestionably, there are “Christians” today who pounce on these texts in order to promote discrimination or oppression. But the majori ...more
Jun 11, 2012 rated it did not like it
Read this years ago after reading about it in the paper. He "debunks" the Bible as a man-made text full of sexism and obvious untruth.

I think he had many errors in both research and logic, but I can respect the man's position to not believe. What I cannot respect is his masquerading as a religious person. He's a bishop and apparently ministers to congregations. His last chapters are about how there is no man in the sky to listen to our prayers; mankind must solve our own problems.

Go be an acade
Joe Henry
Jan 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In general, when I read John Shelby Spong, I am tremendously impressed with his grasp of the breadth and depth of the material and his ability to tell the story in such a straightforward, courageous, no-holds-barred fashion as well as in a very accessible style. He speaks my language, so to speak. In fact, he says/writes plainly and boldly what he thinks, and so often my response is "Yes, exactly; why have we Christians been so slow...perhaps see/say the obvious?"

The gist of this
Nov 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2011
This book had some very interesting perspectives on a variety of topics, and I bet it has pissed a lot of people off. I think a lot what Spong has to say is quite valid though.

First and foremost is his assertion that the Bible is not, and never has been, the literal word of god. This is a belief I have held for a long time. God did not set pen to paper (or chisel to stone) and write this book. Men wrote this book. Even if we accept the notions that it was written as a result of divine inspiratio
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What can I say? I love Spong. There is much to rejoice about - and learn from - a person who earnestly, courageously, seeks to explore his faith without shying away from the ugly truths and inconsistencies in the institutionalised structures and dangerous dogma that lead to so much wrong being done in the name of God.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
Loved this book! Bishop Spong identifies specific verses that have been used to justify prejudice and violence. For most of his life, Spong has studied the bible, its sources, languages and history. He shows how these verses have been taken out of context, mistranslated and/or misinterpreted to support violence. I wish everyone would read this book whether they are believers or not because these verses and their incorrect use have impacted every person in our culture for centuries.
Mar 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
Early in this book it becomes apparent that the author may not be the “deeply committed Christian” he claims to be, as much as he is a charlatan...

At page 25, Spong makes the assertion of what constitutes a disciple of Jesus: “We are to build a world inwhich every person can live more fully, love more wastefully and be all that God intends each person to be.” Well, that’s nice: but the reader is ultimately left abandoned with the incredulity of Spong’s following chapters which proceed to isolat
Mar 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
I have had this book on my shelf for a number of years, but had only briefly browsed through it on occasion. I had originally purchased it when I was feeling particularly separated from the Church, and, I thought, God. I have since come to terms with the fact that my beliefs do not necessarily reflect the Church I grew up in, and that surprisingly, I feel closer to God because of it.

With all of the hub-bub surrounding the monumental Human Rights cases before the Supreme Court this week, I sat d
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a recoverng fundamentalist Christian (I fully understand that one is always "recovering" from any addiction), I decided to read this book I guess to make sure that I was right in my decision years ago to throw over my childhood training - or maybe just to get some reassurance and support - sort of like going to an AA meeting I suppose - to find friends and support to stay on the path towards wholeness, health and freedom. I got all of that from Spong's book.
Religious fundamentalism in all of
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy Bishop Spong's approach to Christianity, the Bible, religion, and spirituality. This book is no exception. First he goes through the various "clobber passages" that are commonly used to condemn people, showing in all cases that such clobbering isn't "biblical" or "Christian" at all. Then he traces, quickly but clearly, the development of the Bible itself: how the various parts of it came to be written, combined, and canonized; and how it came to be seen and wielded as the "(s)Word ...more
Jeremy A
Oct 19, 2007 rated it liked it
The author offers his analysis and thoughts on some of what he calls the Bible's "terrible texts" which have been used by too many Christians as justification for judgmental/hateful attitudes and actions. As a Christian who is in a personal battle to separate the essence of beauty in Chritianity from all of the violence and oppression that has come out of these texts, I found it to be a worthwhile read and to offer serious challenges to some of the assumptions and beliefs I carry. I don't share ...more
Dec 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: progressive Christians
Shelves: religion
This is one of the many progressive Christian books I've read by Spong, Borg, Crossin, Armstrong, et. al.

Spong doesn't pull any punches and flat out points out the hateful and down-right evil parts of Christian scripture out there and how a modern person can reconsile oneself with it. These scriptures were all written by violent ancient people who really had no real understanding of the world they lived in. When you take the cultural crap out of it, the wisdom teachings can be very instructive.
Sep 08, 2008 rated it liked it
If you deal with people who like to use the bible to put you in your place, this book is your ammunition for fighting back. It's not hard to catch a bible-quoter in a contradiction, so that's the easiest part of this book. What I appreciate is the repeated argument against the bible as the Word of God and the repeated illustration of how it is simple a collection of stories that reflect the time, place, and authors of it's origin. If more Christians saw the bible as literature, we'd all be bette ...more
Jan 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
A fantastic book. Spong is a great writer and has a great understanding of what Christianity should be. He carefully discusses the uses and abuses to which the Bible has been used for centuries. Anyone who wants to see Christianity mature and shed its discriminating past should read this book. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interesting in seeing Christianity become more than what it it.
Dec 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is a book written by a devout Christian looking to save his religion from doing more harm than good. In doing so he makes many beautiful points, which even a non-Christian like myself can appreciate.
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book, one I wish more Christians should read. Spong makes many good arguments as to the Bible and how we interpret it. He does not disparage the Creator in any way. He is only asking people to reexamine a book written by man.
Nov 05, 2008 marked it as to-read
the title intrigues me greatly!
Mark Payne
Apr 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent book. The section on Women and the Bible bordered on brilliance.
Patricia Joynton
Aug 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Just trying to figure it out.
Steve Goble
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
A thought-provoking look at the Bible, and well worth a look.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
In this book, Reverend Spong does an excellent job of detailing many of the reasons why I have never been able to accept Christianity; many of the verses in the bible that are so often referred to when defending some indefensible bias or political attitude are not merely irrelevant to the modern world, but are actively evil. He does an excellent job of tracing the origins of those verses, and of the bible in general, and explaining the source of the vile spew that is so often referred to as "the ...more
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I much preferred this book to another of Spong's I read a few months ago, even though this one also contains some of the same irritating prose qualities as the other one, like long lists of rhetorical questions and overused exclamation points. I found that stuff much easier to look over in this book, though, perhaps because the chapters are so focused and short. Many of them pack quite a punch, and really get at the heart of what is wrong with fundamentalist/mainline Christianity today and how i ...more
Jan 29, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
TRASH! BIBLE CHRISTIANS BEWARE! I only read a couple chapters and could not continue. Mr. Shelby Spong claims to be a Christian but his writing betrays his true nature. For Christians the Bible is the Word of God not a collection of stories where you can pick the ones that suit you. He “exposes” the Bible verses he calls the terrible texts because they contradict his political agenda. He then goes on to portray St. Paul as a sexually repressed, religious extremist so he can discredit anything Pa ...more
Tom Rothbauer
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very good book which highlights Bible passages that have been used to support and encourage the evils of sexism, violence and anti-semitism. There is a very good chapter which presents the development of Holy Scripture from the Yahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomic and Priestly sources which were adopted at various times in Jewish history. In another chapter, Bishop Spong writes of the evolution of Christian Scripture. He further writes that "the doctrines, dogmas and creeds of our tribal rel ...more
Pat Mills
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am not sure when exactly I originally read this enlightening book. But I know it was recommended to me by my church reading group composed of mostly 70 and 80 and 90 year old, somewhat radical, wise women. I found it amazing and was delighted that this group in particular had brought it to my attention. Spong was a breath of fresh air in a church atmosphere that was growing increasingly tired and irrelevant to people of my generation. It had a lot to say about how the Christian churches he kne ...more
Crystal Hunter
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another wonderful book by a challenging, insightful author.
Bob Buice
The “Word of God” commanded the original residents of the earth to “be fruitful and multiply”, as a way of populating the newly created earth. Now, that command is still being promoted by certain religious groups. Certain denominations are opposing the use of birth control. All of this despite the potential disaster to the earth from overpopulation. The “Word of God” has been quoted to support this. The Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church today refuse to ordain women and certai ...more
Scott Holstad
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
I thought this was really lightweight material, especially considering the author is usually intellectually stimulating and thought provoking. I've read numerous books and other resources that provide much more material, in greater detail, with less unnecessary verbiage while still getting their points across. I've seen more and better from Christians, agnostics, and atheists. I was very disappointed in this book. Not remotely recommended. ...more
Choong Chiat
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book provides a highly thought-provoking and incisive criticism of how certain passages in the Bible have and continue to be cited by many as justifying "sins" such as the oppression of women, homosexuals and non-believers.

On top of this, towards the end, the author of this book also sketches out his vision of a Christianity which will be much more inclusive, tolerant and progressive.

While I, as a free thinker, am highly supportive of what has been put forth in this book, I cannot help but
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I much preferred this book to another of Spong's I read a few months ago, even though this one also contains some of the same irritating prose qualities as the other one, like long lists of rhetorical questions and overused exclamation points. I found that stuff much easier to look over in this book, though, perhaps because the chapters are so focused and short. Many of them pack quite a punch, and really get at the heart of what is wrong with fundamentalist/mainline Christianity today and how i ...more
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John Shelby Spong was the Episcopal bishop of Newark before his retirement in 2000. As a leading spokesperson for an open, scholarly, and progressive Christianity, Bishop Spong has taught at Harvard and at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He has also lectured at universities, conference centers, and churches in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific. His books in ...more

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